After finishing this book, for the first time, I am actually lost for words. I’m not sure whether to say I liked it or I disliked it. It’s between an okay and an average (somewhere between the mix.) I had high expectations because it is very much loved and I really wanted to like it too, but just because the audience loves it, don’t mean you will too. (Guess that’s me). 

This story is follows into the lives of two main characters: Livia McHugh, who a graduate student and Blake Hartt, who is homeless. Livia travels by the Poughkeepsie train station to go to College and she acknowledges Blake, whereas no one else would. He counts her smiles each day and night. It talks about brotherhood, the importance of family and protecting who you care the most. 

Lets start with the good points: 

“Blake doesn't ask her for money. He doesn't know her name. All he wants to do is...count her smiles.”

There’s a really nice relationship between Livia and Blake in the ½ of the book because I had a gist that there is potential to be developed into something really special. In reality, people would avoid the homeless, whereas Livia looks beyond Blake’s circumstances. Blake spends his days waiting for Livia to arrive at the station, both morning and in the evening, so that he can count her smiles – that’s really sweet. We see a spark and a friendship developing after Livia stands up for Blake when some bullies pick on him. 

Livia McHugh was kind of the strong character in the book – I admire that. There are too many weak female characters out there on the shelf. So it’s interesting to read about a strong female lead. She never sulked or complained; she just got on with it, which is good because no one likes an annoying character. I liked how roles were reversed, Livia being the strong character and Blake being somewhat a weaker character. 

Brotherhood is spoken throughout the book. Blake has two foster brothers who are Beckett – the mobster/criminal and Cole – the Priest’s assistant. Even though they are not biologically related, they have a bond. To show their bond, they have a tattoo on their wrists, which shows a music note, a knife and cross. This tattoo represents what they mean to each other and what they are willing to do in order to keep one another alive. Beckett is like a leader of their brotherhood and does a lot of dodgy dealings to look after his brothers and he’d do anything to protect them. I think this gives a really nice sense of brotherhood and I have enjoyed reading that. 

I liked this quote from Beckett on Blake:

“If I told you once, I told you a million times: you’re a handsome mother*cker. I’m almost gay for you.” I thought that was funny. 

And now the bad...
One of the reasons being...(hell, there are lots of reasons!). Let’s proceed. 

Okay, about into about 2/4 to the final 4/4 of the story, it just lost me. 
We’ve got this really nice relationship between Livia and Blake, which I have enjoyed reading, but my problem is that I don’t think their relationship really developed realistically. The story talks about the two characters having breakfast together, but where was this? Why didn’t the author write about the breakfasts they have? Character development! It’s like it’s not important anymore. The past books I’ve read, authors seem to enjoy skipping it and I don’t believe in instalove. I am having a hard time believing the idea of a homeless man in love with a graduate student. In reality, you won’t exactly see a hot homeless person on the streets. I understand the author wants to move the storyline on, but come on now. Character development, especially between two characters who are in love is important, so the reader can understand of why they have fallen for each other and what makes them belong together. I mean...Livia said she was in love with Blake in chapter 7! (Isn’t this a bit soon?!) She met Blake whilst still in a relationship with her boyfriend, Chris – who by the way behaved like a 16-18 year old and couldn’t take Livia dumping him for a homeless guy. They was an annoying character and I really couldn't careless about his point of view and why the author even wrote it. 

Primary characters suddenly become secondary characters because the point of views kept switching. There are two other love stories spoken in the story. One of them is Kyle (Livia’s sister) and Cole. The other is Eve and Beckett. I did not understand Kyle’s and Cole’s love at all. How did it even start?! It was very love at first sight, very instalove too. In one scene they basically locked eyes with each other for the first time and could not stop staring at each other, couldn’t even say hi. They were probably too mesmerised by what they looked like. Cliché much? Yes. 
Kyle is by far the most vulgar and annoying character I’ve ever read. Her lines were very cringy and I was not fond of her character at all. Her behaviour was like a 16-18 year old for someone who’s meant to be in her early 20s. Either way, there was no character development whatsoever between Kyle and Cole. Their love is very unbelievable to read about. Without good character development, I am unable to understand their relationship. 

There are a lot of sub-plots, which made it quite messy and I really didn’t know where this story was heading. Seriously, did the author even have an editor?! How unfortunate if she didn’t have one. There was way too much drama. Drama is good, don’t get me wrong I love a bit of drama and mystery, but it became too much! The storyline went from something quite lighthearted to a Quentin Tarantino-esque kind of story, with the callus killings and kidnaps. What the hell? I just felt like the author just threw that in to make the story interesting. It was interesting and kept me enticed to read what was going to happen but mostly I felt like it was really weird and random. 

The romance was too clichéd and there are some cheesy lines. There wasn’t enough depth. It was very sweet though. Sweetly boring. I felt like the author wanted to give everyone a happy ending with the weddings [spoiler alert!]. Apart from the Eve and Beckett scenario, I think this is probably going to be explained in the sequel, which I’m not going to read by the way. I don’t like love at first sight because I don’t believe it in, but if you’re going to write something like that, then develop it and make it realistic. Even though this is fiction and make-believe, I don’t think it worked as a story. 

I have been debating between a 2/5 or a 3/5. It is a hard one. I think Debra Anastasia writes well, but the story just didn’t click with me and I wasn’t feeling it to be honest. The majority of the reviewers loved it but not me. It’s not a bad story, not exactly amazing either. [Just being honest!] 
It is a 2.5/5 from me. 
I think the Poughkeepsie title and cover is very interesting, but reading the book and looking at the cover are two completely different things. 
I spend way too much time criticizing love stories. But again, just being honest. Just watch when I get criticized for my own writing. But then again I get criticized all the time for my work. So it’s not news to me. I see it a way of improving, as long as it’s not insulting. 
One tutor did insult me. The one who favours these two students. I remember that. She said oh look how professional this girl’s Stine Goya jumper looks compared to my knit sample. I was thinking WTF did you just say?! Bloody hell. Stine Goya is a designer. I am a student. There is a difference of hierarchy. Should have just reported her.
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